Alfred Stepan, 22 July 1936 - 27 September 2017 (Memoirs XVIII)

Archie Brown, Emeritus Professor of Politics, has published a memoir of Alfred Stepan.

Prof Stepan was Gladstone Professor of Government here at Oxford from 1996 to 1999. His research in comparative politics changed how we think about the topic.


A fine boxer in his youth; an active duty officer in the US Marine Corps who spent the 1962 missile crisis at sea, 20 miles off the Cuban coast, in readiness to invade the island; a Marine officer in Vietnam; a special correspondent of The Economist who predicted the Brazilian military coup of March 1964; a Chicago native urged by the city’s machine politicians to take over the seat of a retiring Democratic Congressman (with hints of a Senate opening to come); a professor who had a six-hour meeting with Fidel Castro in Havana (and a box of Cuban cigars from the revolutionary leader); the holder of prestigious chairs and deanships at Yale, Columbia and Oxford; the first President and Rector of the Central European University in Budapest; Chairman of the Board of the Richard Tucker Music Foundation – this would sound like an implausible combination for a character in a novel. Alfred Stepan, best known for his contributions to the comparative study of politics, did all these things and more.

Professor Archie Brown is Emeritus Professor of Politics